AANHPI women earn 75 cents for every dollar earned by white men, with certain ethnic subgroups earning as low as 44 center per dollar

CONTACT: media@napawf.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) marks Equal Pay Day as the day when the earnings of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women “catch up” to what white men made the year before.

AANHPI women, on average, earn 75 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic, men. This wage gap drops even further for certain ethnic subgroups. Thai and Vietnamese women, in particular, earn 56 and 52 cents, respectively, for every dollar earned by white men. Among the ethnic subgroups, the wage gap is the widest for Pakistani women earning 48 cents and Nepalese women earning as little as 44 cents per dollar.

“Equal Pay Day shatters the pervasive ‘model minority’ myth or the idea that Asian Americans are high-achieving immigrants with resources and stable incomes,” says Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). “The wage gap is drastically different for each community and these differences serve as a reminder that all AANHPI women deserve to live and work with dignity, provide for their families, and make critical decisions that allow them to thrive.”

The findings represent an important shift to previous years that only included full-time workers, which gives more weight to white-collar work and leaves out the lowest paid workers. To more accurately capture the setbacks and challenges of staying in the workforce during a global pandemic with record unemployment that hit the most vulnerable the hardest, part-time and seasonal workers were included in Equal Pay Day for the first time this year.

“We witnessed a record decrease in full-time employment during the pandemic, with those earning an annual income of less than $35k hardest hit. Yet, we can’t underscore the impact this has on AANHPI women, who are overrepresented in frontline and low-wage positions, especially in the retail, restaurant, and personal care industry,” says Yvonne Hsu, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer at NAPAWF.

“There are millions of Asian American mothers living in multigenerational households, shouldering the brunt of caregiving not just for their children, but for elderly parents and extended family members too. More often than not, they’re also the breadwinners. And to make up for lost wages, AANHPI women have no choice but to work longer hours and multiple jobs which often don’t provide paid medical or family leave. These are women who will never ‘catch up’ to their white male counterparts.”

AANHPI women make up 2.9 percent of the overall workforce, but comprise 3.8 percent of the frontline workforce. At the onset of the pandemic, AANHPI women suffered the highest rate of long-term unemployment of any racial or gender group. Almost half, or 44 percent, of those who experienced job losses in 2020 stayed out of work for longer than six months. On top of this economic distress, the public lives and safety of AANHPI women were threatened by hate and harassment. Over the past year, nearly 75 percent of AANHPI women report experiencing racism and/or discrimination, with more than half or 53 percent of women identifying a stranger or someone they didn’t know as the perpetrator.

“Too often, mainstream conversations about the wage gap overlook AANHPI women. Many struggle to afford life necessities such as health care, including access to contraception and abortion care. With Roe and the future of abortion hanging in the balance, access to reproductive healthcare will further compound the economic barriers that AANHPI working women face in their everyday lives,” says Choimorrow.

For more information on 2022 AANHPI Women’s Equal Pay Day, visit: https://www.napawf.org/equalpay


The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.